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Comic-Con it every dang day

Tijuana's Friki Zone, where nerds can say they're nervous

Just another day in the Friki Zone
Just another day in the Friki Zone

“Whoa, they have the Link Amiibo. I can’t find them anywhere in L.A. I’m getting one for my lil’ brother.”

Entrance to the plaza

I was touring my friend Gabe through Tijuana when he got excited and we stopped at a store. Gabe was amazed at the offerings in the Plaza de la Tecnologia, Plaza de la Mujer, and Friki Zone. The Nintendo figurine was four dollars more expensive than they usually sell for in the U.S., but it was worth it for Gabe because he had been looking for one.

I walk through the plaza on a regular basis as an entertaining shortcut. It takes me away from the usual bustle of downtown Tijuana, through a passageway of nerdy magic. High school me would have loved this place.

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Sponsored

To give you an idea of the place, I recorded a video walk-through with my iPad. Halfway through filming, a security guard told me that it was the company's policy to not let people record. The guard instructed me to ask permission in the administration office on the second floor, where I spoke with Miguel Angel Garcia, the general manager of the three plazas.

"This used to be Dorian’s,” said Garcia. “We have been around for, like, three years, I am not sure of the exact date we opened.” Dorian's was a furniture store that opened in Tijuana in 1959, spread through Mexico, eventually became a Sears, and finally closed its doors in downtown in May 2009.

"There are 570 shops combined in the three plazas," said Garcia. "We have 37 plazas in 17 different states. Not all of them have all three plazas or they are not fully connected. But usually if there is a Plaza de la Tecnologia, there is a Plaza de la Mujer nearby. The Friki Zone is often connected to Tecnologia, but not all of them have that area." Garcia radioed the security guards to let them know it was okay for me to continue recording.

Plenty of toys, kids and men-children!

I usually enter the plaza through the back end. The floor-mat welcomes you to the Friki Zone, a place to find video games, comics, cards, anime, and more. The ceiling has Japanese characters written in black-and-white. On either side there are tiny shops that sell video games and tech gadgets.

After a handful of stores, tables are set up in the middle of the hallway painted with anime characters. People young and old (men-children), gather to play cards —mostly Yu-Gi-Oh! (My nerd-self only plays Magic.) By the tables, there's an arcade and similar stores where you can rent Playstation 4 and Xbox One by the hour. There is also an air-hockey table, Dance Dance Revolution, and a couple of pool tables. Stores across the arcade area get more interesting, selling anime, comics, figurines, trading cards, and board games.

In the middle of the hallway, the three plazas converge. Escalators in front of a McDonald's ice cream stand lead to the second level where the administration offices are, more shops similar to the ones downstairs, and a kids' area resembling a fast-food playground.

On the cosplay catwalk

The hallway that cuts perpendicular is Plaza de la Mujer. I've only walked through there a couple of times. Beauty salons, manis/pedis, shoe and clothing stores, your typical mall. I usually walk straight through Plaza de la Tecnologia. Shop after shop offers selfie-sticks, cables, chargers, laptops, cell-phone covers, gadgets, and electronic repairs. There are also a couple of stores that sell glass pipes and stoner artifacts and a few piercing/tattoo parlors.

The plaza also hosts events, like battle of the banda, cosplay contests, and video-game tournaments. On this particular Saturday there were contests for drawing, karaoke, Just Dance, and cosplay. I stayed for a while during the cosplay catwalk. The judges took several minutes with each contestant, asking them pointless questions, like, “How are you feeling right now?" Most of them said they were fine but nervous.

Video:

In the Friki Zone

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Just another day in the Friki Zone
Just another day in the Friki Zone

“Whoa, they have the Link Amiibo. I can’t find them anywhere in L.A. I’m getting one for my lil’ brother.”

Entrance to the plaza

I was touring my friend Gabe through Tijuana when he got excited and we stopped at a store. Gabe was amazed at the offerings in the Plaza de la Tecnologia, Plaza de la Mujer, and Friki Zone. The Nintendo figurine was four dollars more expensive than they usually sell for in the U.S., but it was worth it for Gabe because he had been looking for one.

I walk through the plaza on a regular basis as an entertaining shortcut. It takes me away from the usual bustle of downtown Tijuana, through a passageway of nerdy magic. High school me would have loved this place.

Sponsored
Sponsored

To give you an idea of the place, I recorded a video walk-through with my iPad. Halfway through filming, a security guard told me that it was the company's policy to not let people record. The guard instructed me to ask permission in the administration office on the second floor, where I spoke with Miguel Angel Garcia, the general manager of the three plazas.

"This used to be Dorian’s,” said Garcia. “We have been around for, like, three years, I am not sure of the exact date we opened.” Dorian's was a furniture store that opened in Tijuana in 1959, spread through Mexico, eventually became a Sears, and finally closed its doors in downtown in May 2009.

"There are 570 shops combined in the three plazas," said Garcia. "We have 37 plazas in 17 different states. Not all of them have all three plazas or they are not fully connected. But usually if there is a Plaza de la Tecnologia, there is a Plaza de la Mujer nearby. The Friki Zone is often connected to Tecnologia, but not all of them have that area." Garcia radioed the security guards to let them know it was okay for me to continue recording.

Plenty of toys, kids and men-children!

I usually enter the plaza through the back end. The floor-mat welcomes you to the Friki Zone, a place to find video games, comics, cards, anime, and more. The ceiling has Japanese characters written in black-and-white. On either side there are tiny shops that sell video games and tech gadgets.

After a handful of stores, tables are set up in the middle of the hallway painted with anime characters. People young and old (men-children), gather to play cards —mostly Yu-Gi-Oh! (My nerd-self only plays Magic.) By the tables, there's an arcade and similar stores where you can rent Playstation 4 and Xbox One by the hour. There is also an air-hockey table, Dance Dance Revolution, and a couple of pool tables. Stores across the arcade area get more interesting, selling anime, comics, figurines, trading cards, and board games.

In the middle of the hallway, the three plazas converge. Escalators in front of a McDonald's ice cream stand lead to the second level where the administration offices are, more shops similar to the ones downstairs, and a kids' area resembling a fast-food playground.

On the cosplay catwalk

The hallway that cuts perpendicular is Plaza de la Mujer. I've only walked through there a couple of times. Beauty salons, manis/pedis, shoe and clothing stores, your typical mall. I usually walk straight through Plaza de la Tecnologia. Shop after shop offers selfie-sticks, cables, chargers, laptops, cell-phone covers, gadgets, and electronic repairs. There are also a couple of stores that sell glass pipes and stoner artifacts and a few piercing/tattoo parlors.

The plaza also hosts events, like battle of the banda, cosplay contests, and video-game tournaments. On this particular Saturday there were contests for drawing, karaoke, Just Dance, and cosplay. I stayed for a while during the cosplay catwalk. The judges took several minutes with each contestant, asking them pointless questions, like, “How are you feeling right now?" Most of them said they were fine but nervous.

Video:

In the Friki Zone

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